The future of Kemnay Farm Shop has been secured after a disgruntled neighbour’s complaints about noisy fridges threatened to close it down.
Last year, the business was informed they had breached planning rules by placing the fridges there without consent.
And in a further blow, owners Steven and Michelle Clark were served with an enforcement notice after a noise complaint was made.
Now they have had to plead their case before Aberdeenshire Council to keep the Aquithie Road store alive.
‘I’ve had to move bedroom because of noisy fridges’
Kemnay Farm Shop, which launched its own cafe a few years ago, is based in a former police station.
Neighbour Richard Murray asked the council to reject the application, claiming the buzz from the fridges prevented him from sleeping.
He said the unit caused a “noise nuisance” during the summer. forcing him to move his bedroom and keep his windows closed during the hot nights.
However, Craig and Louise Thorburn threw those claims into doubt.
The pair, who live next door, wrote to the council in support of the chiller – and stated the noise was “barely noticeable”.
The retrospective application went before the Garioch area committee this morning.
What did the Kemnay Farm Shop Owners have to say about it?
Store owner Michelle Clark told members that she and husband Steven tried to solve the problem after they were served with the noise notice.
First, they installed an acoustic fence and later added a roof to enclose the chiller.
They even added sound insulation foam too, but said “nothing seemed to work”.
The couple even employed a noise specialist at a “huge cost” to the small business – but they didn’t seem to think there was a problem with the volume.
‘It’s a huge part of my business’
“We keep getting told it’s a noise nuisance that we have to sort but nobody is actually telling us what to bring the level down to,” Michelle stated.
“It’s very difficult to try and fix something if we don’t know what we’ve to bring it down to.”
Michelle pleaded with the committee to approve the application, saying she would have to “close the business down” if she lost the chiller.
“It’s a huge part of my business, it stores all my stuff.
“It’s more than just a shop to me, it’s my life.
“We have a great rapport with people in the village, they support me greatly and are horrified at what’s happening here over one person making a complaint.”
Fridges could disturb sleeping neighbours
Before the application went before the committee, council officials had recommended it be refused.
While they believed the fence was acceptable, they argued that the impact the chiller has had on neighbours was “not acceptable”.
Environmental Health officers visited the area and said that while the unit was “not considered to be problematic” during the day, a low “hum” could be heard at night.
They believed the chiller could disturb sleeping residents nearby, and didn’t agree that the owners had done enough to reduce the noise.
Fridge hum ‘not annoying or distressing’
But at today’s meeting, councillor Moray Grant urged his colleagues to back the business.
He said: “If it really was a significant nuisance, there would have been more than one objection.
“It seems to be purely subjective, I’m not persuaded the noise is unacceptable.”
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Councillor Hazel Smith told the committee she visited the site last night to hear the noise for herself.
She admitted she did hear a hum but said it “wasn’t annoying or distressing”.
Following a vote, the committee approved the shop’s application by 10 to 3.